Category

Vitamins

Plant drinks. Is yours fortified with iodine?

By | Plant based, Supplements, Vegan, Vitamins | No Comments

Did you know that as humans our main source of iodine comes from cows milk. And that organic cows milk actually has a lower iodine concentration by around a third. Especially important throughout pregnancy for foetal brain development but also for the general population too. So when we make the switch to a plant based alternative, that’s one micronutrient we are actively removing from our diet. A lot of the time unknowingly.

Some brands will add iodine in, but even some of the most well-known don’t. This isn’t law in the UK so it’s completely their decision if they want to add it in or not. Cost comes to mind?
Marksandspencer and Oatly both add iodine to their standard plant milks, and Alpro do to their soy original only. Double check the label for piece of mind. Does it contain iodine? It will say on the nutrition panel. If it doesn’t then look for another one.

Supplements

If you are adopting a vegan diet then unless you are consuming fortified drinks or other fortified foods you may need a supplement. It should be in the form of potassium iodide or potassium iodate. The UK adult recommendation is 150mcg/day and your supplement should not exceed this amount.

Food sources

Seaweed is also good source, so sushi or those seaweed sheets you can get for snacks are great. However, they don’t need to be consumed every single day as their iodine content varies considerably. There are also some seaweed/kelp iodine supplements on the market however it is not advisable to take these due to the point mentioned above.

Other food sources are white fish like cod or haddock and eggs. Or if you can consume a mixture of dairy and plant drinks that’s a good option too.

If in any doubt a blood test from your GP will be able to detect your current levels

Further reading

And if you would like some further reading, there was a review published in 2017 by Sarah Bath et al “Iodine concentration of milk-alternative drinks available in the UK in comparison to cows’ milk”

It’s just useful to remember this will be ever changing as manufacturers change their recipes so best to check the label.

Why I’m not eating my placenta

By | Pregnancy, Supplements, Vitamins | No Comments

This may be too much information for some. But I felt it important to write, and also sum up the evidence on this topic.⠀

What is it?

Making your placenta into pills seems somewhat trend at the moment. It’s a bit like celery juice and turmeric and their unproven health benefits. Consumption of the human placenta post birth has reportedly been linked to better mood, enhanced recovery and an increase in milk production. With anything this new, we simply haven’t had the time yet to research any claimed benefits or on the other hand any harmful effects to human health. The most common form for consumption is through the placenta being dehydrated and turned into pills, just like a supplement.⠀

Yes, other mammals consume theirs. We are not other mammals.⠀
Yes, it contains lots of nutrients which have kept your baby alive for 10 months. That doesn’t mean we should eat it.⠀

What does the evidence say?

It is important to note the growing body of evidence in this area. A study conducted by Young et al. in 2016 looked at 28 placenta samples to see if, after processing, the 17 hormones found within it were still present. 16 of them were. However the effect they would have on the human body after consumption was not investigated.⠀

A review of the literature conducted in 2018 by Farr. A. et al found that the majority of studies in humans are anecdotal and based on self-reported surveys. This translates to personal experiences and has a load of bias associated with it because it can’t account for anything else that happened whilst consuming the pills. Such as, you are no longer pregnant and may feel better for that fact alone. Your diet may have changed since baby arrived, you may be breastfeeding, you may not. This review also found that no nutrients or hormones were retained in amounts that would be beneficial for mothers after birth.⠀

As with anything there are also risks, including group B streptococcus being passed on to baby if the placenta is infected and remains undetected which has been reported in one case in the USA.

In summary

Whilst there is no doubt interest in this area and ongoing research, for me, these anecdotal reports are not enough. And the fact we can obtain optimum nutrition through our own diet with a few proven supplements is.

Zinc & colds

By | Supplements, Vitamins | No Comments
Quite a timely post given I’m suffering this week. I have wanted to post on this for a long time, so here goes…⠀

Previous thoughts…

It’s long been thought vitamin C is the cure for the common cold or at least something that will help the symptoms. A Cochrane systematic review published in 2013 looked at 29 studies on developing a cold while taking a vitamin C supplement regularly. It was found that this is only really beneficial for those participating in high level sports but not the average Joe like you and me. There was an overall failure to see a reduction in the incidence of common colds in the general population and supplementation only reduced the symptoms of the cold by 8%. When this has been tested again these results were not replicated.⠀

Research on zinc 


Zinc however, well there is some promising research on this micronutrient.⠀

A meta-analysis conducted by Rondanelli et al (2018) where they looked at 82 research studies found that zinc supplementation can reduce the duration of the common cold by 33% however it must be taken within the first 24 hours of the onset of symptoms. And as for the dosage well that’s a little bit tougher to decipher and there are no formal recommendations. This is also where it becomes tricky because you may not know exactly when that 24 hour period starts. In another review conducted by Harri Hemila in 2011 it was found that a daily supplement of more the 75mg/day was also associated with a reduction in duration but any less and the results weren’t seen.⠀

It’s also important to note these studies and another systematic review by Singh and Das in 2015 reported a reduction of duration but not how bad the symptoms are. The common cold on average lasts around 10 days so if you can get it early you could reduce its length by about 3 of those days.⠀

And finally it seems zinc acetate lozenges are best for the above. The challenge is finding one with an adequate dosage, which to be fair is difficult given there is uncertainty around how much will be of benefit. Many zinc lozenges come with added vitamin C which is totally fine, check the mg content per lozenge and aim for around 75mg/day for the duration of the cold. This is likely to be more than what’s in one or two lozenges. Do be mindful there could be side effects including a bad taste and nausea and if you experience these then dosage should be dropped or stopped.

In summary…

You cannot avoid it completely, if you catch the bug you’ve gotta ride it out, just perhaps not for as long.

The Deal With Vitamin D

By | Food for thought, Guidelines, Vitamins | No Comments

Personally and professionally, I’m not one for supplements and believe that an adequate balanced diet incorporating all the major food groups with lots of fruit and veg should do it. That being said, it’s come to that point in time, when for the general population in the UK, it just isn’t enough. (1)

So listen up, I’m aiming to keep these blog posts short and sweet, with ample levels of evidence, but that you can get through in max 5 minutes, because quite frankly everyone is so busy they don’t have time to read lengthy posts.

Vitamin D comes in two forms, D2 and D3. We obtain D2 from plant food sources and D3 from animal sources such as red meat, oily fish, egg yolks as well as sunlight. But D3, and that’s where it’s a bit more complicated as in addition to the diet, the majority of it comes from being synthesized in the skin with the presence of sunlight. (4) However in the UK, from October to March the sun just isn’t strong enough to work with the skin and generate vitamin D3. (1)

So we need to supplement. What’s the deal? It’s a minefield I know…

Most of the general population only require a vitamin D supplement of 10micrograms. This applies to all over the age of one, my tips are:

  • Health food stores tend to have good deals on supplement tablets but be careful on which tablets they are promoting, online might be more suitable just make sure it’s a credible store.
  • You only need 10micrograms, not 20, not 25, not 50, so only buy a tablet that contains 10micrograms, your bank account will thank you and your body won’t use the extra vitamin D from a higher dose as it simply doesn’t need it.
  • It shouldn’t cost you more than £4.00 for a bottle of 100 tablets – if it does shop elsewhere or check to make sure you are buying the right dose.
  • Read the label – make sure it’s D3, make sure it’s only 10mcg and that you aren’t getting ripped off.
  • You can also get vitamin D supplements through the Healthy Start programme (3)
  • Babies under the age of one consuming infant formula are fine as it already contains adequate vitamin D levels. Those over the age of one should have the same supplement level as adults however vitamin D drops may be more palatable.
  • Those with dark skin should consume a vitmain D supplement all year round.

The likelihood of having too much vitamin D in your system is low and generally the risk only builds up with an intake of more than 100mcg per day so you are generally pretty safe. (5) And why do we need it? It promotes calcium absorption in the gut, it’s needed for bone growth as well as healthy teeth, it’s really important in immune health and for cell growth and metabolism. (2)

If you have a medical condition which is affected by vitamin D, speak to your GP before taking any supplements, however for the majority a daily dose is absolutely good for your health.

So go now, on your way home from work, on your way to the shops or jump online. Make it a habit, your body will thankyou until the sun consistency brightens up our days from April onwards!

References:

  1. Public Health England, https://www.gov.uk/government/news/phe-publishes-new-advice-on-vitamin-d
  2. Scientific Advisory Committee on Nutrition (SACN) Vitamin D and health report, 21st July 2016
  3. Healthy Start – https://www.healthystart.nhs.uk/ 2017
  4. Tripkovic, L. et al. Health benefits of vitamin D dependent on type taken. Biotechnology and Biological Sciences Research Council, May 2012
  5. NHS choices, vitamins and minerals. https://www.nhs.uk/conditions/vitamins-and-minerals/vitamin-d/ March 2017